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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  November 5, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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finally, don't forget to turn your clocks back an hour tonight. daylight saving time ends at 2:05 am. maybe you'll gain an extra hour of sleep. you should, at least. i'm don lemon. see you back here at 7:00 pm eastern. meantime, go tigers. go lsu tigers. we keep learning more about the sexual harassment allegations against presidential candidate herman cain. this hour, the cost, contradictions and the impact on cain's presidential campaign. plus, after years of war in iraq, is that country an ally of the united states or not? i'll ask the bush administration secretary of state condoleezza rice. and, buckle up, we'll take you on one of the world's most dangerous and deadly drives. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world.
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i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we didn't hear from herman cain's accuser herself, but her lawyer says she still believes she was the victim of sexual harassment by the republican presidential candidate back in the 1990s, when he was the head of the national restaurant association. the lawyer, joel bennett, responding skeptically to herman cain's denials. >> there's an expression, where there's smoke, there's fire. the fact that there are multiple complaints tells me that it's more likely than not that there was some sexual harassment activity by this man at that time. all of that is subject to proof. he would be allowed to rebut all of them be and i -- but the fact that there's more than one complainant is meaningful. >> let's assess what's going on right now with our chief analyst gloria borger.
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if no other woman were to publicly announce what happens right now, is it possible that this whole issue could go away for herman cain? >> sure, it is. so far, in fact, wolf, this hasn't affected him much in the polls. he's sitting right up there among republicans. until you get specific charges leveled by specific people, it's very difficult for herman cain to respond. having said that, i kind of believe that in the end, you're going to -- to -- you know, you can't stick your finger in the dam, you know. at some point, somebody will come out and put a face on it, because enough people know who these women are. >> it's been pretty embarrassing, though. and the lawyer on friday, when we heard joel bennett, he didn't want to go into the specifics. she wants to just continue her private work. she works for the federal
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government. she's been married for 26 years. i guess he can't blame her for wanting to maintain some privacy in all of this. >> sure, you can't. there is an option, which is don't do anything. she was clearly angered by what herman cain was saying publicly, because she believes her complaint was valid. so, you either go out and do it publicly or you do nothing. instead, she took sort of a middle ta krchct. and i think that puts herman cain in a very difficult and unfair position, because he's responding to anonymous charges publicly. >> and he's going forward, trying to do the best he can to try to move beyond it. >> right. >> we'll look ahead this week to see how it unfolds, gloria. i assume he will want to focus in on the economy 9-9-9 tax reform plan and all of that. >> that's what his campaign says. since this story broke a week ago, herman cain has raised $1.6 million for the entire last
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quarter, he raised $2.8 million. so, this has helped him as far as fund-raising is concerned. >> certainly hasment we'll continue to follow it every step of the way. we'll see what's going on. gloria, thanks very much. >> sure. let's dig in a little bit deeper right now with our political correspondent candy crowley and senior political analyst ron brownstein. one day, herman cain blasts the liberal news media for this, then he blasts the rick perry campaign, elements in that campaign. he seems to be going in multiple directions. >> except for what happened. and that's really the point. the point is, this is not good policy, by the way, in terms of a campaign. you really ought to get it out there and say here are the facts of the matter. but if you're not going to do that, what do you try to get out there into the atmosphere to start taking over the headlines? people are out to get me. by the way, it works very well for the people who like herman
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cain, because then they know -- they believe him. they believe they're out to get him. >> he has raised more than $1 million since the story exploded almost a week ago. look at this new poll that came out friday, the abc news/washington post poll. romney is at 24%, these are among republicans. cain at 23%, well within the margin of error, perry at 13%, gingrich at 12%. >> right. >> in terms of the polls and the money, it doesn't seem to be had youring him. >> i think it actually probably does in the end. what we said earlier this week, if you look at a poll like this, cnn national polls, look at the polls in the state, herman cain's constituency is the most conservative wing in the republican party. they're the most likely to rally around him and believe that the media is out to smear him. i think that will solidify him. kind of the kneeling force will be for the electorate. but whether he lowers his
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ceiling, republicans that are more looking for an economic manager who will think twice before moving to him. if he stays in this range, like many other things have happened, things end up being good for mitt romney. >> i agree with you, that it ends up being good for mitt romney and better for the obama re-elect campaign. essentially, these cain supporters now, in the new terminology double down on cain. >> yes. >> if it turns out next week he goes, okay, there was this, there was that. those people were betrayed and you will see the numbers going down. >> in usa today, how i'll tackle spending debt. he goes through specifics of what he would cut. he said washington is full of sacred cows that supposedly can't be slaughtered and electrified third rail that is allegedly can't be touched. but if we do not act now, the irresistible mathematics of debt will soon lead to unimaginable
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peril. have you taken a look at -- >> most americans believe we are on that course, regardless of who the republican nominee is. we'll have a big debate in 2012 about how to do this. part of the solution, president obama will say, has to be higher taxes on the most affluents as part of a long-term debt solutions. and republicans will oppose that, not so much mitt romney. and towards embracing the idea of medicare into a premium support program where you would get a check from the government to go buy private insurance. that will be a big point of debate if he is the republican nominee. >> paul ryan, chairman of the house committee, when he made recommendations to reform medicare. >> but not a full-on embrace. there's some plausible deniability in there when it gets to a general -- should he get to a general campaign.
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but you're perfectly right. these are defining -- everyone talks about this is a defining election. it really will be. there's not a lot of middle ground here. >> you saw the new numbers, unemployment numbers going from 9.1% to 9%. 80,000 jobs created in october. and the revised numbers for august and september are a lot better, remember back in august it was only zero jobs created. now they're getting closer to 100,000, then 100,000 or so, a little bit more in september. that's why that 9.1% went down to 9%. the president was asked about it friday at his news conference. listen to what he's saying about the economic situation here at home. >> jim, i have to tell you, the least of my concerns at the moment is the politics of a year from now. i'm worried about putting people back to work. >> you always hear that from a president. he's not even thinking about
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theplies here at home. >> first of all, that would not be my first choice. pick a different backdrop for that. obviously the president is worried about politics, but the politics and economics are indistinguishable. the biggest obstacle he faces in terms of re-election is disappointment, in his performance particularly on the economy. he's getting job growth but not at a level that will really change anyone's sense of how the economy is progressing. and that sense of -- the biggest, i think, vavl here is not so much people's assessment of where we are now but whether they think the trajectory is getting better. >> is he going to be moving in the right direction, candy, or the wrong direction? that's the question political pollsters think is the most important question in re-electing or not re-electing. >> that's why the obama re-elect is looking at this two-pronged approach to it. the first is we started out losing drk hemorrhaging jobs.
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now we're not making enough. it's the trajectory but it's also -- oh, by the way, this guy, he's crazy and will take us back to the policies that got us here in the first place. there are two ways to go about it, and they intend to go at it both ways. >> populism galvannize the modern democratic coalition. can it? >> the choice element has to be a big part of the re-elect. so much discontent over the country. democratic coalition is different than it used to be. white collar suburban voters and the issue, debate in the democratic party, is this populism going to drive voters away or people above them, will they agree, have gotten off scot-free? >> we'll see you sunday morning. >> you watch both times, right? >> sometimes i miss something in the first time. i need to watch it a second time
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to get the newance. understand what i'm saying? >> absolutely. worth the repeat. >> absolutely. >> thank you. a former governor caught in the middle of the financial scandal, calling it quits. on the trail of millions of dollars missing money. is israel on the verge of the strike against iran? reports say the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu is rally support, but could it backfire? condoleezza rice talks about a moment when she was secretary of state that made her very uncomfortable. [ elevator bell dings ]
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in the cross hairs. chief executive officer, jon corzine has resigned. he says his exit without a seveseve severance package will be best for the company. what's the very latest? >> jon corzine issued a statement on friday saying, quote, i feel great sadness for what has transpired at mf global and the impact it has had on the firm's contacts, employees and
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many others. right now there's money of the customers' missing. and they've been granted the authority to issue is ups. federal regulators have voted to issue is ups to company executives, trying to unravel what happened to more than $600 million in customer accounts that the company earlier this week reported missing. among those worried is a customer who has about $100,000 in a brokerage account with mf global that is now frozen. >> if they invaded my funds, that means they played with my funds, took my segregated funds, used it for their own benefit and lost it. that's really a serious criminal act. >> mf global was run by former senator and governor jon corzine before its rapid collapse earlier this week. the firm invested more than $6 billion in european sovereign
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debt and was heavily exposed. large commodities exchange where mf global operated said the company failed to keep separate its customer accounts from its corporate funds. >> segregation of customer fund sincere the bedrock upon which the industry is built and there are regulators and others who supervise that segregation. >> mf global moiys are still showing up for work and bankruptcy judge granted the company an $8 million lifeline to keep them afloat until mid november. jp morgan and deutsche bank hold $1 million each in mf global debt. the biggest thing is a loss of trust from its main street investors. >> mf global has undermined the entire integrity of the system, protections and balances from the clearing house down to the segregated account. >> now, there is a website that has been set up for customers.
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it's mf global trustee.com. if there ismying m inin inin ii covers up to $500,000 in potential customer losses. wolf? >> we'll watch this story with you. how the mighty, in this case, jon corzine, have fallen, at least for now. lisa, thank you. is israel moving toward a strike against iran's nuclear program? why speculation right now at a critical high. plus, thousands of inmates start walking out of federal prisons. why sentences for crack cocaine are being eased here in the u.s. guinea pig: row...row.took one, 8 months to get the guin: ..row. lile cbby one to yell row! guineaig: ro's kof strange. guinig: row...row. such a simple word... row. anncr: t an easierayof strange. save. get online. go to geico.com. get a quote. e u 15% or more on car insurance.
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rocket engine tested bold headlines that raised the possibility that push could come to shove regarding iran's
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nuclear program. foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty has been digging into this story for us. is military action at all likely, jill? >> people have been talking about it, wolf. this idea has been raised numerous times for a long period. but rate now, it it is stronger than ever. speculation is reaching critical mass that israel is inching closer to launching a military air strike against iran's nuclear program. while israeli media reports say prime minister benjamin netanyahu and defense minister ehud barak have had a meeting, barak guarded his word. >> i don't think we're in any military action. i don't think, if and when we have to discuss, it truly will be discussed the way we are talking now.
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>> speculation is being fueled by israel's successful test this week of a new rocket propulsion system. israelis called it preplanned but that's not putting out the fire. from france, president barack obama weighed in. >> scheduled to release a report on iran's nuclear program next week and president sarkozy and i agree on maintaining the pressure on iran to meet its obligations. >> that new report from the international atomic agency, at the state department, the spokeswoman insisted the u.s. does not seek a military confrontation with iran. >> that said, we are going to use every means at our disposal to continue to try to increase the international pressure on iran to meet its iaea obligations and to come clean on its nuclear program.
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>> so, will israel or even the u.s. take out iran's nuclear program? one iran expert says not likely. >> i think very few people think it's going to happen, but we all feel like we have to take it seriously. >> taking it seriously. and, you know, there could be really major repercussions, if that were to happen. if iran were to be struck by the united states or israel. it could have implications for afghanistan, iraq and certainly, potentially, could destabilize the world economic situation. wolf? >> i assume they're doing all sorts of contingency planning at the state department and elsewhere here in washington. they're sort of focused in on this issue right now, especially given the fact that the iaea is going to come out with their new report next week. >> yes, wolf. you know, so far, we are hearing that that won't have a smoking gun, that it certainly is turning up the heat on this issue, big time. >> jill dougherty at the state department. we'll watch it together with you. coming up, some reaction from
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condoleezza rice, the former secretary of state. i have a wide-ranging interview with her on that and more, including the billions of dollars on the war in afghanistan. is all that money well spent for the united states? my interview with condoleezza rice is coming up. scores of u.s. nato supply trucks torched, bombed and looted on the road to afghanistan ahead. why the grilling drive often turns deadly.
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we're looking ahead to a report next week on the state of iran's nuclear program. as we reported, there are signs that the israelis are reporting for the worst. joining us now from the university of miami, condoleezza rice, the former secretary of state, former national security adviser, also the author of a brand new book entitled no higher honor. a memoir of my years in washington. madame secretary, thanks very much for coming in.
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>> it's nice to be with you, wolf. >> all right. let's get to some of the current issues and then we'll talk about the book. you've probably been seeing these reports that israel might be preparing to launch some type of military strike at iran because of its nuclear program. would that be wise? >> well, the fact that we're even talking about that shows the danger of the iranian program. my view has been that there's still time for diplomacy with iran, tough diplomacy, but really the international community has got to be a lot tougher than it's been willing to do in the past. i really don't have any insight into what may or may not be going on in israeli calculations, but i do know that there's much more that could be done to iran through sanctions and it's high time that it get done. >> for eight years, you were consumed with this concern about iran and its nuclear program. what should the u.s. do? because sanctions don't seem to have had much of an effect.
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>> i think the sanctions have had some effect. i think the iranians are having some trouble with their program, probably many of the kinds of equipment and the materials that they need are harder to get, thanks to the embargoes and those should be stepped up. it's possible to put a lot more pressure on the iranian economy, too. perhaps people should really start looking at an oil and gas emb embargo and what affect that would have. the iranian regime is dangerous but not ten-feet tall. building on what has been done the past several years, we really did manage to bring together an international coalition around iran. we did manage to get the iranians to the security council a number of times and it is extremely important that those sanctions be toughened. now the president of the united states should never take off the table military action, but i think everybody understands that that has a lot of potentially
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unintended consequences. >> the iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki seems to be aligning himself with iran, with the kind of immunity that the u.s. troops would require, and increasingly supporting syria. is this why the u.s. went to war, spent a trillion dollars or whatever, lost so many lives, to see iraq emerges a strategic partner with iran? >> well, let -- oh, wolf, i think that significantly overstates the case about what's happening. the iraqis really don't like the iranians very much. they are arabs, not persians and maliki left tehran, didn't go into exile there, went into syria, which may explain some of the linkage. and he ought to be pressed to get in line with the arab
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because maliki is an elected leader not a dictator. now the fourth largest purchaser of foreign military sales from the united states. we have to look at the fact that even though we were unable to work out an arrangement for residual force, there's still some talk of prapts erhaps doin. i don't know what happened in the immunity deal. we worked out an immunity deal with the iraqis that they were willing to accept. we should try to revisit the issue of residual force. it's highly overstating the case to say that iraq somehow has become a strategic ally of iran. >> it's moving in that direction, increasingly. why would kuwait, for example -- >> no, i don't even -- i don't even -- >> why would kuwait allow 30,000 u.s. troops have a presence there without the immunity that they require, but iraq, a country we invested so much into, has said no to the
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negotiations. >> i wasn't inside the negotiations. i don't know who said no to whom. i know we were able to work out an immunity clause with the iraqis that was acceptable with the president and acceptable with -- >> beyond the end of this year, beyond 2011? >> my point, wolf, we were able to work out an immunity clause and i don't know whether that same immunity clause might have applied, had it been looked at, that it might have applied to our forces going forward. i was not inside the negotiations, so i don't know where the breakdown was. but when you have the iraqis buying military equipment from us, you will have some training of iraqi forces. the iraqi people are no particular friends of the iranians. let's not overstate the case that they're somehow moving into the iranian camp. i think there's simply not the evidence for that at this point. >> $2 billion a week the united states is still spending in afghanistan. $2 billion a week, more than $100 billion a year for at least
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another three years, through the end of 2014. is this money well spent, given where hamid karzai is right now and where the opposition to the u.s. presence in afghanistan is right now? >> well, hamid karzai is not a perfect partner, that's quite obvious. but he isn't the taliban either. and he's not harboring al qaeda in his country. and this is a country that no longer has a significant al qaeda safe haven. it is a country that actually has made some progress toward decent governance. yes, pakistan is continuing -- a continuing problem for afghanistan and a continuing problem for us. it's really that frontier between the two countries that is the most dangerous threat to not just afghanistan, but i think also to pakistan. so, yes, there's a lot of work yet to do in afghanistan. i think we can, in a reasonable amount of time, train afghan security forces that are capable
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of preventing an existential threat. helping to create more governance perhaps in the provinces. and the real wild card is whether or not pakistan will really go after the extremists in its midst and the extremists in that northwest frontier. that's really where the issue is. >> in your book "no higher honor," this line really jumped out at me on one of your visits to saudi arabia. the crowned prince pulled out a gift-wrapped package. i have a gift for you, he said. it was a full-length, beautifully embroidered abaya, the black robe and veil saudi women traditionally wear. i had it made especially for you, he said tenderly. our women wear them. yes, as a sign of owe pregnancy, i thought. how do you balance the owe pregnancy of women in saudi arabia, where they can't drive a car or fully vote with the need for oil and u.s. saudi relationship, maintaining that
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balance? how frustrated were you? >> well, this is a deeply conservative society. i'll say one thing for king abdullah. he is a reformer within his own con tech. he has, after all, has put into place a multibillion dollar university that is a technical university where women will study, even though they'll study separately. he, himself, has said women should be able to vote by 2015. to us that may not sound like much, but to the king that is. deeply conservative society that you're not going to change overnight. how out of step will saudi arabia be with the democratizing trends in the reasonable? that's why we have to keep pressing saudi arabia to make reforms and changes. it's not just about their oil. it's a strategically located ally as well and the united states also has interests.
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but i think we learned over time that our interests are ultimately better served in our values are well served, too. yes, it's a balancing act with a country like saudi arabia. >> everything seems to be a balancing act in all the negotiations all over the world. madame secretary, eight years you served here in washington. i know you're enjoying the private sector right now. good luck. the name of the book, it's entitled "no higher honor: a memoir of my years in washington." thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you very much, wolf. take care. changes in crack cocaine sentences, setting thousands of federal prison inmates free. we'll have the details. female soldiers in the u.s. military doing something they never had the chance to do before. stay with us. you're in the situation room. [ artis brown ] america is facing some tough challenges right now.
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inmates have started to waung out of federal prisons here in the united states because of a new law that went into effect, reducing sentences for crack cocaine offenses. mary snow has been looking into the story for us. what are you finding out? >> sentences for crack cocaine charges have long been criticized for being too harsh. 500 inmates were released the first day these new rules went into effect earlier this week and says staff members have been working round the clock to process orders, coming in from judges. among inmates who stand to be released early from prison is hamida hassan, featured in this video by the aclu. >> i'm a 43-year-old mother and grandmother. >> the aclu points out had she been convicted of cocaine
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charges, she would no longer be in prison. new guidelines shorten sentences for an estimated 12,000 inmates. >> this really has been one of the great stains on our federal criminal justice system for 20 years or more. >> michael nachmanoff is a federal public defender who has fought for years to change crack cocaine sentences so they are similar for crimes involving powder cocaine. while they changed the guidelines this summer, they now only went into effect for those in prison. 75 of his clients were free. >> a lot of people have been sitting in jail for a long time, not because they didn't commit crimes but because the punishment they faced was too harsh and unjustified compared to other people who had committed similar crimes, in similar ways. >> he says there has been a racial disparaity, with the majority of those being
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convicted of crack are african-americans. 5 grams of crack amounted to five years in prison. the same sentence for 500 grams of cocaine. in 2010, congress passed the fair sentencing act, which reduced disparities, something julie stewart, president of families against mandatory minimums has fought for. >> yes, the person has broken the law. yes, there should be a consequence. how much time is too much? mandatory sentences are so high and so rigid judges can't get around them. so, people are going to prison for extraordinarily long times, way beyond what they actually need to learn their lesson. >> wolf, there is one other aspect to this story. federal sentencing commission estimates that $200 million will be saved within the first five years of these new rules. wolf? >> mary snow, thanks so much. interesting story. important one as well. women can't be sent to the front lines of combat.
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these female soldiers in the united states are going into the nger zone. and they're getting special forces training to do something only they can do. and it's one of the world's most dangerous and deadly drives. the 24-hour trek, bringing supplies through pakistan to u.s. troops in afghanistan. we'll take you along for the ride. oh, we call it the bundler. let's say you need home and auto insurance. you give us your information once, online... [ whirring and beeping ] [ ding! ]
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it's a very dramatic and important development. female soldiers in the united states army are doing something they've never done before. they're serving in special commando units for the very first time. our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr, is standing by. she has more on this latest development. barbara, what happened here? >> well, wolf, we went down to ft. bragg, north carolina, to take a look at all of this. it's not quite g.i. jane, but it's as close as it gets. elite special forces, training to assault compound. many are headed to afghanistan. these troops have a new weapon. for the first time, women are joining elite commando units, going on raids into compounds and even living in villages. their job? to do what the men cannot, deal
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directly with afghan women and children. for the first time ever on television, cnn was given access to their rigorous training. >> a bunch of strong, capable, awesome women, who can take any challenge that's thrown at us. >> captain annie kliman laughingly rejects compare sons to g.i. jane. >> we're not going to be shaving our heads any time soon. >> only half the women who apply are accept. >> these women are a cut above the rest of the army. >> even as they train here at ft. bragg, the women know there are skeptics. >> we'll definitely be prepared to pull our weight, be part of the team. >> it's training both brain and brawn. they move hundreds of pounds of weig weights, run an obstacle course and work as a team to solve problems. it's politically delicate. women are not allowed to serve in front line combat units, so
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these women, heavily armed, will only go into compounds after they are secured by assault teams. >> the women that are on raids, they're not deliberately part of the direct action raid. they are there to help mitigate following the raid. >> it's an effort to ease resentment afghans feel when troops raid their villages. for women, it means offering help to villagers, but still also searching afghan women for weapons. >> being sort of acknowledged that women can operate at this level. >> new recruits know the danger. there is no true front line. just last month, team member first lieutenant ashley white and two male soldiers were killed during what the army described as combat operations in afghanistan. the first death of a team member has made the program so sensitive, no senior army special operations commander would talk to us on camera. the women did.
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sergeant christine baldwin is just back from afghanistan. >> this is a program that is going to keep going on. it's a need that needs to be met over there right now. >> now, look, women right now have served in the war zone four years, but being with these special forces out in the very front of combat does pose some unique risks. just a few weeks ago, a female team got caught in the middle of a firefight. wolf? >> i remember that. thanks for the development. day in, day out, convoy carrying supplies, militants have found the weak link for u.s. and nato war effort. cnn's zenaida takes us there.
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>> reporter: severe burns on both his legs and both his arms. >> i couldn't think. just wanted to run away, he says. there was gunfire. huge blast. the attack was among hundreds carried out by militants in recent years, all targeting fuel and supply trucks, destined for u.s. and nato troops in afghanistan. afghanistan is surrounded by land. no seaports. so the supplies first arrive here at the southern port city of karachi, pakistan. every day, hundreds of trucks load up their cargo and start the grueling 24-hour drive. it may take days to complete. for this, they get a little more than $200. >> they use two routes. one goes from karachi through northwest pakistan and on to the khyber pass. the other goes through baluchastan province, southwest pakistan. at one point, 80% of u.s. and nato supplies went through
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pakistan. the supply's critical for the military operation there. then came the attacks. the defenseless trucks torched. easy prey for militants who now had a potent way to bleed the nato mission in afghanistan. this video shows pakistani taliban fighter s joy riding in an american humvee they said they lifted in one of the attacks. raise your hand if you've been attacked, if your truck or you have been attacked. at this truck depot, dozens say they're victims. some showing off their scars. "15 to 20 militants blocked the road, started firing, and then torched our truck," said this driver. "we can only get in the truck and drive. if we get there, great. otherwise, anyone can kill us." what's left of the trucks end up in graveyards like this. police say over the past three years scores of attacks have destroyed hundreds of trucks. killing at least 50 people.
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with mounting attacks and losses, u.s. officials say they've cut deliveries through pakistan by about one half, opting to use alternate routes through afghanistan's northern neighbors. yet every day, this man and hundreds of pakistani drivers still make one of the world's most dangerous drives, knowing it could be their last. "what else can we do," he says, "poverty has made us desperate." >> what a story that is. meanwhile, prisoners of war returning home after years in captivity. the line is blurred between real life and fiction in a pair of television dramas. and a cargo ship battered by strong seas in new zealand. strong seas in new zealand. hot shots and more coming up. well, it just might surprise you. because this is how people and business connect. feeling safe and secure that important letters and information don't get lost in thin air. or disappear with a click. but are delivered. from person to person.
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here's a look at this week's "hot shots." in south korea, tanks cross a
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floating bridge as part of a troop exercise. in india, a grave on all souls day. in new zealand, a cargo ship is battered by high seas. the vessel has been stuck on a reef since october 5 and has spilled over 300 tons of oil. in china, contestants compete for the chance to represent hong kong at the annual santa winter games in sweden. "hot shots," pictures coming in from around the world. prisoners of war returning home after years in captivity. the line is blurred between reality and fiction in an israeli television drama which has led to an american spin-off. cnn's kevin flower has the story. >> reporter: carrying banners and chanting cheers of support, hundreds gather outside an israeli airport. inside, television news cameras capture the comments of an israeli government spokesman as the country's about to conclude a historic prisoner exchange.
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>> a few moments ago, a red cross airplane carrying the israeli prisoners of war has landed. the prime minister is on her way to greet them. then they will be united with their families. >> reporter: it may look and sound like very recent events but this is not coverage of the gilad shilat story but the premiere episode of an israeli television drama called "prisoners of war." the series, entering its second season, tells the story of two israeli soldiers returning home after 17 years in captivity. >> i was curious about the fact that we're so adamant about bringing back the boys and we talk about that part all the time, but nobody talks about what happens to them once they're here. >> reporter: this is the show creator. and says the drama is based on extensive research about real-life experience of israelis like gilad shalit who have been held in prolonged captivity and
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frequently suffer various profit traumatic stress disorders. >> one of the things i've discovered is coming back from captivity is not the happy ending but the beginning of a new struggle. >> reporter: the first seasons of the depiction of that struggle and some of the similarities to the case of then still captive gilad thalit brought some criticism that the show was manipulating public sentiment. >> the fact it's a sensitive subject is the reason we should deal with it. once the show did air, people were a lot less controversial about it then because they saw we dealt with it the utmost respect and sensitivity. >> reporter: criticism aside, the show has caught on and has spawned an american adaptation about a returning p.o.w. called "homeland." which premiered this month on the show time cable network. raff, who also serves as an executive producer, says it
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needed to be approached differently for u.s. audiences where captive american soldiers are not household names. >> i'm an american -- >> in the american version, from the very beginning, we suspect that he might be someone else, he might be a terrorist, he might be turned. so that was part of the adaptation. >> reporter: fiction turned into reality and reality turned into fiction seems to be striking a chord. the show is one of israel's most-watched dramas. and in the united states, the expectation that a second season will be announced soon. kevin flower, cnn, jerusalem. we leave you with this note. i had the chance to speak to a group of high school students in east chicago, indiana, this week. i was invited by my friend reggie martin. he's a graduate of that high school. he's now a successful businessman who started his own foundation to empower underprivileged youth. we spoke about how education